Date of this Version
U.S. Government Works
Dune fields of Quaternary age occupy large areas of the world's arid and semiarid regions. Despite this, there has been surprisingly little work done on understanding dune sediment provenance, in part because many techniques are time-consuming, prone to operator error, experimental, highly specialized, expensive, or require sophisticated instrumentation. Provenance of dune sand using K/Rb and K/Ba values in K-feldspar in aeolian sands of the arid and semiarid regions of North America is tested here. Results indicate that K/Rb and K/Ba can distinguish different river sands that are sediment sources for dunes and dune fields themselves have distinctive K/Rb and K/Ba compositions. Over the Basin and Range and Great Plains regions of North America, the hypothesized sediment sources of dune fields are reviewed and assessed using K/Rb and K/Ba values in dune sands and in hypothesized source sediments. In some cases, the origins of dunes assessed in this manner are consistent with previous studies and in others, dune fields are found to have a more complex origin than previously thought. Use of K/Rb and K/ Ba for provenance studies is a robust method that is inexpensive, rapid, and highly reproducible. It exploits one of the most common minerals found in dune sand, K-feldspar. The method avoids the problem of using simple concentrations of key elements that may be subject to interpretative bias due to changes in mineralogical maturity of Quaternary dune fields that occur over time.